Today’s Question: You mentioned that you have gone entirely to using a laptop. Could you share some words of wisdom in calibrating a laptop?
Tim’s Quick Answer: A laptop display can be calibrated and profiled in the same way you would otherwise calibrate a standalone display. I highly recommend using a package that employs a colorimeter device for this purpose, such as the X-Rite i1Display Studio (http://timgrey.me/i1display).
More Detail: I highly recommend calibrating any display you will use for evaluating your photos, to ensure the most accurate results when printing or otherwise sharing your photos. This is true whether the display is a standalone monitor or a display integrated into a laptop.
There are a variety of software-only calibration tools, but these don’t actually measure the light being emitted by your monitor display. To get the most accurate display, a colorimeter is needed to measure the brightness and color accuracy of your display. That information is then used to create a profile that corrects the output for your display.
One great option for calibrating your monitor display is to use the X-Rite i1Display Studio (http://timgrey.me/i1display). This is what I use to calibrate the display on my MacBook Pro display, and it provides accurate tone and color for evaluating my images.
If you don’t calibrate your display, the images you see on that display may be inaccurate in terms of color, and will almost certainly be inaccurate in terms of tonality. This is the primary reason that photographers often end up with prints that are too dark. Put simply, they are evaluating an image on a display that is too bright, and therefore darkening the photo to the point that they are not happy with their prints.
So, just as you would for any monitor display, it is important to calibrate and profile your laptop’s display, whether like me you are using a laptop as your only computer, or you are simply using the laptop when you’re away from your desktop computer.